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June 08, 2017 12:18 PM UTC

Gardner defends Trump nominee who wrote that Muslims have a "deficient theology"

  • 8 Comments
  • by: Jason Salzman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During a congressional hearing yesterday, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) defended a Trump nominee who wrote that Islam is a “deficient theology.”

“Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology,” Russell Vought, Trump’s nominee for an OMB post, wrote on a conservative blog last year. “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont put a series of direct questions to Vought, as reported by Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post:

Such a statement is “indefensible, it is hateful and Islamophobic, and an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders told the room. He asked Vought, who sat facing him, if he thinks his past comments are Islamophobic.

“Absolutely not,” replied Vought, a former vice president of the conservative Heritage Action for America. “I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith. That post … was to defend my alma mater, Wheaton College, a Christian school that has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation.”

Gardner responded by defending Vought’s right to interpret his Christian faith, according to the Huffington Post report:

Fellow committee member Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) scolded Sanders, indirectly, by saying through gritted teeth that he hopes his colleagues “are not questioning the faith of others and how they interpret their faith to themselves.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) later told Gardner he didn’t think Sanders was questioning anybody’s faith but rather “the nominee” was questioning the faith of others.

Comments

8 thoughts on “Gardner defends Trump nominee who wrote that Muslims have a “deficient theology”

    1. OMB prepares budgets for other Federal agencies, and provides technical assistance in preparing budgets, Within that wheelhouse, there are probably many bureaucratic ways to penalize non-Christians through the budget-making process. An OMB chief could stop or slow down budget items related to

      * providing contraception or sex education

      *religious tolerance or diversity education

      *anything else he has "religious objections" to

      *anything related to investigating police abuse, or voter suppression – when I read Vought's post, he railed against a colleague who had an anti-racist agenda.

      At the same time, budget items which seem to meet a Christian / conservative criteria could get preference and be on the fast track to approval. He could also presumably hire staff and delegate the jobs of making budgets fit his religious principles to them.

      1. It's a political appointment, so some of that is expected (and on its own a reasonable justification for voting against a nomination if it's extreme enough). But at some point you cross from simply opposing for political differences into blocking because the nominee can't keep actual religious bias out of their work, or won't commit to it.

        Would Vought, for example, write up budgetary support for a Muslim ban? Would he direct support for religious "exemption" language that favored his religious beliefs?

  1. Without being unsympathetic to Sen. Sanders' line of questioning, I have to agree with Sen. Gardner here. Vought's blog comments were about a religious dispute and said nothing of his views on how he would actually treat anyone outside of that semi-internal religious context.

    Vought didn't do himself any favors by falling back to the "as a Christian" response, though. A definitive answer that he would treat everyone equally regardless of how religiously faithful they were woild have done the job.

    1. With Russ Vought, we don't have to extrapolate just from his bigoted op-ed. He's been on board with Trump from day one, and the budget he proposed was developed by the Heritage Action Center, his long time employer.

      According to The Hill, the Heritage budget would gut:

      The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

      The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

      The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.

      At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.

      At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

      Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.

       

      I’m guessing Sanders knows all about the Heritage proposed budget, as well.

        1. I disagree – I think Vought's op ed does show impermissible religious bias.

          However, in the Trump administration, with white supremacists Steve Bannon  still running Breitbart News right out of the White House, and Nazi sympathizer Seb Gorka functioning as chief Trump defender, Vought would probably have to be videotaped actually forcing Muslims and Jews into an internment camp for the religious bias charge to stick.

          So we'll probably have to fight Vought's nomination as a total package – the bias and the horrible policies.

    2. i see your point, but i'm with Mama. There's your right to interpret your faith, but he comes around to expressing some tolerance as an afterthought. Even in the context of a religious dispute, he should have been more clear about his respect for Islam. and he was not sufficiently reassuring when talking to Sanders.

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